The Need To Do Vs Nice To Do Productivity Hack + 5 More

December 7, 2019

Time Organisation Productivity Hack | The Elgin Avenue Blog

A little while back my friend Claire shared a productivity hack which has been a game-changer for me. It’s simple, so effective and easy to keep front of mind.

Over food at by Chloe (side note: so good, go if you can get to a location!), Claire and I were chatting about how to prioritise things when you have a lot on your plate.

Claire said to me, quite simply, that she asks herself: is this a “need-to-do thing”? Or a “nice-to-do thing”?


Do you need to do this? Or would it be nice to do this? Doesn’t that make prioritising things feel so much easier?

Though there are loads of nice things I’d like to do on a day to day basis, it’s the need-to-do things which tend to move the needle.

Recently I’ve been juggling a lot of deadlines before the end of the year, and as such I’ve had to implement Claire’s tip time and time again. Though browsing Oliver Bonas for stocking fillers would be nice (so nice!), on my need-to-do list I already have things which require my attention.

Nowadays I prioritise my need-to-do things first to make sure I’m on track with work and life, and pepper my nice-to-do things throughout the week as a fun counterbalance.

Try it! I’d love to know how you get on.

Here are five other productivity hacks I come back to time and time again . . .

Time Organisation Productivity Hack | The Elgin Avenue Blog

1 – Macro to Micro To-Do Lists

I implement this strategy all the time! Since my work has lots of facets, it’s helpful to have a birds-eye view of everything I have going on over a long period of time (say a month, or a week) via my macro to-do list. I then use my macro to-do list to inform the things I do on a daily basis, which go on my micro to-do lists.

That way I know I’m staying on top of things, and that my daily tasks are contributing to my long-term goals.

2 – Create before Consuming

We all know that the digital world can be a time-suck. Whether it’s browsing blogs (hi!), fantasy shopping on Net-A-Porter or deep-diving into an Instagram rabbit hole of #frenchchic (side note: love this account RN > @FrenchGirlDaily), it’s tiiiiiiime.

Whilst I’m in favour of all of the above, prioritising them over getting your own sh*t done is a sure fire way to keep that to-do list growing Medusa heads.

Instead, try this simple trick: create before consuming.

Don’t open Instagram until you’ve styled and shot your own images.

Don’t answer emails until you’ve written that pitch doc.

Keep that itch for an online browse at bay until you’ve reached your word count.

I’ve found that by putting my creation time first, I’m more inclined to keep the work groove going, leading me to less consumption overall. Bonus!

3 – The Pomodoro Technique

Time Organisation Productivity Hack | The Elgin Avenue Blog

I am ALL in for the Pomodoro Technique, have you heard of it?

The Pomodoro Technique is all about working in short chunks of time, namely 25 mins a pop.

If a task is looking completely unmanageable, try setting a timer for 25 minutes and powering through.

I do this all the time when I have a big writing project on. I know I can focus for 25 minutes, and oftentimes I end up tapping ‘repeat’ on my phone alarm another handful of times.

This technique helps me to stay focused and on task. Plus it helps me to remember to take mini-breaks throughout the day too.

4 – Turn Off Your Notifications

Notifications are a complete no-go for me. They’re so distracting!

I like to think of your attention span as something that needs to be trained up, if you’re only used to working in short spells (because notifications keep interrupting), then you’ll never be in it for the long haul.

A good attention span is so important for getting big chunks of work completed.

So, no notifications.

Instead I opt-in to my emails and social media accounts a handful of times a day, and when I’m there I’m really there.

5 – Say No

Saying “no” to the things you don’t have time or energy for is one of the best tools you have in your productivity tool box.

Especially at this time of the year, with the festive season in full swing and new year right around the corner, there’s more on your plate than normal.

Throw into the mix minimal daylight and a natural inclination to hunker down, and it’s more important than ever to save your ‘yes’s’ for things you’re really excited for, and which will fill you up.

Think of it this was: for every “no” you share, that’s another “yes” you can use elsewhere. And who doesn’t want to rack up some more ‘yes’s’ for an evening at home, a trip to Winter Wonderland or a binge session of Hallmark movies?!

What’s Your Take?

I hope that these productivity hacks helps you to organise your time too. I’d love to get your take!

Is there a tried and tested productivity hack you come back to? How do you handle the business of the festive season?

I’d love to know!

Love, Monica x

Images by A Fabulous Fete


Time Organisation Productivity Hack | The Elgin Avenue Blog

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